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The Prime Minister wants the UK to take a lead role in efforts by the Five Eyes intelligence alliance to challenge China’s technological capabilities. The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries are parties to the multilateral UK-USA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.
Their aim is not only to challenge China but also reduce Western reliance on companies such as Huawei.
The Prime Minister is believed to have changed his position on the issue of Chinese dominance in areas such as 5G mobile technology and is backing an initiative to ensure Western countries have an alternative source of equipment.
Members of the Five Eyes are determined to invest heavily in sectors where Chinese companies are currently dominant.
Mr Johnson revealed this decision to the National Security Council last week, this is a change in attitude by the Prime Minister.
Originally he had rejected the idea saying the idea of developing a Western-only alternative to Huawei was unrealistic.
Despite strong pressure from Washington to prohibit Huawei from aiding the UK with its forthcoming 5G network, Britain accepted equipment from the Chinese firm.
Downing Street insisted that Huawei would be barred from supplying so-called “core” equipment but critics have long insisted this will not fully counter security risks.
In an article by The Mail on Sunday, it was reported that Downing Street is now looking to reset and rebalance” relations with Beijing.
It’s reported this is down to China’s response to the Covid-19 epidemic and its efforts to quell dissent in Hong Kong.
This shift in policy means the UK and other members of the Five Eyes can now press ahead with a Western alternative to Huawei’s 5G technology.
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Britain has already been holding talks with Japanese company NEC on supplying 5G equipment and further discussions are planned with other non-Chinese providers, including South Korea’s Samsung and Sweden’s Ericsson.
A Whitehall source said: “We have lost expertise in dozens of major markets like technology and science, hence why we got into the Huawei mess. The Chinese have just hoovered up.”
“It is not realistic for Britain to go it alone and this malaise is not a uniquely British problem. So on this, we are going to help our partners plug the gaps that the Chinese are currently exploiting.”
Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has warned the Prime Minister from creating an “economic wall” to block Chinese dominance.
Not only will Mr Johnson experience a robust response from members of his own cabinet, but it’s also likely that this change in tone towards Beijing will be met with hostility from China.
The London based banking giant, HSBC, has extensive interests in Asia and has warned that it could face retaliation from China if Britain banned Huawei from supplying network equipment.
There are also rumours that by 2023 Britain wants to remove all its equipment from the 5G network.
If these rumours were to come true then this could very well upset Huawei and damage relations further.
In 2018, Huawei’s CEO, Ren Zhengfei reportedly used an internal address to employees to exhort his staff to “surge forward, killing as you go, to blaze us a trail of blood” as it sought to
counter US sanctions targeting its business.
The companies technological prowess is a reason as to why there are growing tensions between America and China.
The two superpowers are constantly battling it out for technological and economic supremacy.
However, It has long insisted that it is entirely separate from the Chinese state and does not represent a security risk.
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